Fear of Speaking Up in La Cañada Flintridge
Every community has a culture that governs what people feel comfortable talking about publicly. La Cañada Flintridge is so much different from the open culture of the town where I served as a member of the board of education back in a New York suburb. That school district was similar in size and demographic makeup (financially and politically), and real estate values were also linked to the Blue Ribbon status of the schools. However, people there were not afraid to speak up, and readily expressed their likes and dislikes about the district schools.

Our district is so different. Here in our city anyone daring to utter a negative word about the schools can be easily censured by a “heads in the sand” society that insists that anything negative said by anyone will affect home values. To me this is so much nonsense and very un-American. The current controversy over the alleged remarks of a math teacher is a case in point.

No one can be sure if Ms. Leko made the derogatory remarks she allegedly said. The point is that anyone who dares demand a full hearing is likened to someone cursing in church and labeled a troublemaker. What is very frightening, along with this reluctance to speak out, is the dismal turnout in this just past election.

[A recent editorial in an other paper] said it most clearly. It seems the two go together and equate to a dangerous apathy coupled with fear that keeps LCF residents peer pressure stifled and self-muzzled. Therefore, they are simply reluctant and afraid to get involved.

And while we are talking about this fearful issue, the same can be said about anyone who dares utter a negative word about the governance of our city and the leadership of the City Council. Saying anything negative about our community leaders will gain you a back seat in our society and label you as “not a nice guy” as if always being nice ever gets anything done that needs to get done. The key to being happy in our city seems to be “Go along to get along” and “Don’t make waves.”

As they say, we need to “wake up and smell the coffee.” Sure things are good in our city, but there is lots of room for improvement, and developmental opportunities will never be identified until people have the guts to shine a big light on what they perceive to be in need of change. Until this happens, we will continue to reject new voices for the school board and city council that represent viewpoints that differ from those of the imbedded establishment that has ruled this community since its inception.

Change for change sake is not always desirable, but change when needed requires that people have the courage to stand up and be heard and not fear that they will be ostracized and marginalized for having an opinion that differs from the powerful entrenched folks who seem to have a following of people who fear rocking the boat by critiquing these lions of our community. Perhaps these are the people who are too lazy to vote and are happy allowing others to determine their destinies.

That’s not what our Founding Fathers envisioned for our great nation.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Al Restivo, Chairman
La Cañada Flintridge Republican Club

Thanks to Holiday
A special thank you [is extended] to Lilian and Karla of Holiday Hats and Gowns for another outstanding fashion show on Nov. 4. The elegant creations specially selected for each model made our scholarship fundraiser for Glendale College students a huge success.

Karen Wharton, Model Coordinator
Glendale College Patrons’ Club

Business Competition … Do We Want It In Montrose?
For the past couple of months there has been a great deal of discussion of having a Starbucks coffee house open near another franchise coffee house (“Starbucks Take Heat at MSPA Meeting,” Oct. 13).

Montrose residents and merchants are proud that Honolulu Avenue is the home of many “mama and papa” stores. With the possible inclusion of Starbucks on Honolulu, I would like to ask the “locals” do they truly believe in the free marketplace and competition [or] is competition selective?

My wife and I enjoy patronizing the stores in Montrose. In fact, my wife loves Montrose! We live in East Glenoaks Canyon and there are many restaurants and retail stores in our neighborhood.

When I told my wife of the controversy surrounding the proposed Starbucks, she was excited and could not understand why some residents would be against this enterprise. We [recently] came back from Vancouver, BC, Canada, and it seemed that there was a Starbucks on every corner with people relaxing and enjoying themselves at each location. In fact, in the downtown area there were two Starbucks on a corner directly across the street from each other. Talking about having a caffeine high city!

Is Trader Joe’s a “mama-papa” store? I do not think so. When Trader Joe’s moved in, traffic on Honolulu and surrounding street traffic increased. Some stores like Cordon’s Market will probably suffer. Our local library will enjoy the added visibility, but the fire department will now have to dodge the cars and traffic in front of their fire station.

The town of Montrose is definitely unique, but when one sees many stores opening and closing, one can only wonder if the old “business model” is out of step and out of date for today’s shoppers who flock to the malls. Even Starbucks had to change their business model to stay competitive with Mickey D and other imitators.

We should welcome Starbucks to Montrose as we have Trader Joe’s since we feel they both will ultimately “fit in well” and prove to be good neighbors based on their individual track records.
Mike Mohill

Kimber Goes on the Record
I am your resident plagiarist who once worked for the Glendale News Press. I wrote over 400 columns for the paper and have been ousted for relatively rare moments of unoriginality. I now welcome an opportunity to come clean with any of you up this way who may have read what I’ve written for the last nine years. I would ask, though, for you to judge for yourselves whether my transgressions were serious enough to discredit the 99% of original work I did contribute (for the record, that’s an estimate. It may be closer to 99.5%).

I’ve taken my lumps in the past month or so; I’ve kicked myself repeatedly, and I’ve wondered what took place in my mind that allowed me to occasionally get lazy in my writing.

I can say that it only happened when I strayed too far from what I knew. I should have listened to my old math teacher at CVHS, Ron Klint, who told me to stick to writing about my family. When I found myself looking to see what others had said about the topic I had chosen for the week, the Internet put a world of ideas at my disposal along with the temptation to borrow a phrase or two from someone who said perfectly what I wanted to say. Just one or two tiles in the mosaic I was trying to piece together.

I didn’t see a problem, but I should have. People have a right to expect originality from public disseminators of information, be they from major networks or small town newspapers.

And yet …

Words and ideas are building blocks we use to tell a story, or to make our case. We barely own them, and attempts to do so are futile and counter to their purpose. That is what I thought in my own writing and that is what I thought in granting permission to others over the years to use my words. It did not, and does not, occur to me that I be given credit by another for having used words as I did in any particular combination.

I spent long hours on each and every one of my columns. The original piece that was flagged was about “Joe the Machinist” and was, ironically, one of my better efforts. The introductory paragraph said in a few sentences – veteran employees across the country being cut in salary to protect business bottom lines – what had just happened to freelancers at the News Press.

For a full reckoning and a more complete description of my “fall from grace” as one local commentator put it, I invite you to visit my new blog at wwwparsec-santa.com/dankimber.

I’ve been beaten down over this, and I think it’s time to pick myself up.

Thank you, CV Weekly, for offering up some of your space for this local boy gone not bad but just slightly astray still looking to be part of a public dialogue and fervently believing in redemption.
Dan Kimber

Water Board Decisions Disappoint
As a long-time residential customer of Crescenta Valley Water District, I was disappointed by the water board’s decision to borrow another $10 million and implement a plan for annual rate hikes.

Sure the talk was about leaky pipes and capital improvement plans but that is nothing out of the ordinary. The real news is that the water district is leaking red ink faster than their worst piece of pipeline.

Expenses are projected to exceed revenues by $2.1 million in the current year – the third straight year of shortfalls. So the board, apparently unable or unwilling to focus on reducing expenses, continues on a path of trying to borrow and rate hike its way out of the mess left behind when a perfect storm of conservation and recession reduced demand for water.

Of note are the voices and votes of directors Kerry Erickson and Judy Tejeda who urged the rest of the board to consider alternatives to the massive borrowing and never ending rate increases.

Unfortunately directors James Bodnar, Kathy Ross and Ken Putnam saw things differently and the plan was approved.

This battle was lost and the District will obligate water customers to repay $19.7 million in debt service on the latest $10 million bond over the next 30 years. This only four years after the last $10 million was borrowed.

Now the focus should be on how the CVWD spends the latest chunk of change they borrowed on our credit card.

Residents and neighbors who went to the public hearings are urged to not give up the fight. That means paying attention to what their board members do and resisting increases at every turn.
See you at the next CVWD monthly board meeting [on Dec. 13].
Greg Wilkinson
30-year La Crescenta resident